Growing up in the countryside in the south of Sweden I didn’t realise how lucky I was to grow up in such an idyllic place. Fast forward to present time living in a big city, where getting fresh herbs and locally grown vegetables can be quite tricky at times.
So my first night in Sweden this summer I cooked us a fairly standard summer meal of pork fillet, salad and potatoes. Normally I would cook the meat on the barbecue to get that charred flavour, but due to the first barbecue ban in my life time (even in your own garden – it was that dry) I had to make do with the stove and oven. And sitting outside in the sunshine it was still a lovely meal.
Mainly because of the sauce I literally threw together on the spot. It’s a simple cold sauce with mainly creme fraiche and a little mayonnaise as a base (us Swedes make sauces like this ALL the time), but what made it so nice was the mix (and quantity) of fresh herbs from the garden. An absolute treat for this city girl and something I used to take for granted when I lived at home.
Garlic and herb sauce, serves 3-4
300 ml creme fraiche
2 tbsp mayonnaise (preferably Hellman’s)
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp Acacia honey
3/4 small garlic clove, finely chopped
approx 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme and parsley
salt and pepper
Mix creme fraiche and mayonnaise. Then add mustard, honey, garlic and herbs and leave for a while for the flavours to develop before serving. Season to taste.
Last week was pretty quiet. The first three days of the week I worked a lot (and late) and so didn’t really have time for much else.
Not even cooking, but I had pasta leftover from the weekend and made nice sandwiches for lunch.
But Thursday night I met my friend Laura for dinner in the city and tried a place I’ve been meaning to try for a really long time. It was a lovely meaty dinner, that I can’t wait to tell you more about later.
On Friday we left London for some countryside air and it was so lovely to get away for the weekend. On the Saturday we braved the rain and went to the literary festival at Althorp, then back to a cosy night in by the fire. We also watched a really sweet film; Victoria and Abdul, with the amazing Judy Dench in the lead.
Sunday the weather was lovely and we went for a really nice walk. Love putting on wellies, breathing some fresh air and say hello to the sheep in the fields.
I’ve been back in London for a little more than a week and my holiday in Sweden is already starting to feel like a distant memory. It’s funny how quickly one settles back into the groove.
Monday was mainly about catching up at work, but I felt up to speed by the end of the day, having caught up with my emails and paper work. When I got home I started to put all my things away from the trip. I always unpack my suitcases as soon as I get home, whatever time of night that is (I like to maximise my time away and often fly back late). I don’t know why but I find it so satisfying to unpack straight away, but I’ve done it for years! But of course I don’t put everything away immediately (that takes too long) so that’s what I did on Monday night. And laundry of course, even though I made sure to do laundry in Sweden too.
Anyway, the next evening after work the book club girls came over for some nibbles and pizza on the roof terrace followed by pudding back in the flat as the sun had started to set. It was lovely catching up with them and decide on the new book to read (this one if you’re interested) and as all of us contribute to the dinner it’s never stressful to host.
Wednesday I made pizzas and we watched The Handmaid’s Tale (OMG it’s so good – draining, but SO good). Thursday I packed for the weekend, had some more pizza and watched some more The Handmaid’s Tale.
I had the day off on Friday which was wonderful so after a lie-in we drove up to Northamptonshire where we stayed over night. Friday night we had dinner and watched Joseph and the amazing technicolor dreamcoat at Kilworth House and the next day we just took it easy before going back to London in the evening.
Sunday I did some more chores, unpacked and made another pizza (with leftover dough that I froze on Wednesday). I think I need a break from pizza now actually…
Last week was a short work week but it felt extremely long to me. Maybe because I didn’t get up to much in between working, laundry and other chores. I did get my hair cut though – that head massage is amazing after a long day at the office.
But the weekend more than made up for the rather boring work week; I spent it in the picturesque British countryside and it was so relaxing. I enjoyed the sun, lovely company, good food and managed to really switch off (not my phone, but I didn’t look at it all that much). And I finally found some time to read. The book we’re reading for book club now is so good I need to find some time to read it every night until it’s finished. If you haven’t read it already (it was published in 1992), I highly recommend Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.
This past week was just lovely. I had a few evenings to myself but also had a wonderful dinner with Ro and Gaby one night. Ro cooked this really yummy chicken dish with mustard and panko breadcrumbs – recipe here – and we had a lovely time chatting and drinking prosecco.
Gaby brought pudding; amazing doughnuts from Crosstown Doughnuts! We tried three different ones and they were all yummy (yuzu & passionfruit; cinnamon and raspberry) but I think the winner was the raspberry one.
On Friday night I went up to Norfolk for the weekend and had such a lovely time walking on the beach, breathing in the (very) fresh air and just taking it easy.
The countryside there actually looks a lot like the part of Sweden I’m from so I felt right at home, although the beaches here were even wider. It was so nice to be in the countryside and lower the pace for a bit.
And eat nice food in cosy country pubs and have fish and chips by the beach. Now, it’s back to the real world, but that’s quite nice too!
I got back from Sweden last night after ten wonderful days with friends and family. I didn’t get to see everyone I wanted to see, but I’m starting to learn that I never have that much time when I go home. And I’m happy I managed to squeeze in as much as I did.
I ate a lot of pick ‘n mix and cooked a bit, met up with friends and got invited over to theirs for lunches and dinners. And I got to enjoy the fresh countryside air, pick wood anemones in the woods and unwind a little.
Here are a few pictures from the trip and I will post a lovely recipe later in the week!
The weekend before last a friend invited a group of us down to a very nice house in the country. Luckily the weather was good so we could enjoy the pool and play football on the lawn as well as drink wine and eat a lot. What more could one ask for?!
It was one of those wonderful weekends that fill you up with energy, although I have to admit I was a little tired when I got back to London because I took care of the cooking. It was good fun though and I don’t think there was any risk of anyone going hungry.
As we were lounging outside most of the day I thought it best with nibbles instead of a proper started and served three different ones; salmon rolls with horseradish, puff pastry straws with blue cheese, walnuts and honey and my take on bruschetta.
Then it was time for the big event – the BBQ. I had prepped drumsticks and pork fillet and we also grilled sausages and beef burgers. There were of course a lot of different salads and condiments; potato salad, bean salad with feta, slaw, salad with avocado and spring onions, couscous salad and ketchup, mayo, pickled, mustard, cheese, sliced onions and tomatoes.
After a proper break we finished the meal with Swedish mud cake, vanilla icecream, butterscotch sauce and berries.
Everybody seem to enjoy themselves and the food and it was good fun prepping it all too! Recipes will follow in separate posts.